7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey | Book Summary

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7 Habits of Highly Effective People ‘, is a book written by Stephen R. Covey. It is a self-improvement book. In this book, Covey shared his beliefs and some habits to increase effectiveness. According to him, our perception decides that how the world is. To change a particular situation we have to change ourselves. But for changing ourselves we need to change our perceptions.

Everyone wants success, and success isn’t easy, but some day-to-day habits can make a big difference.

For identifying such habits and an easy journey to reach your destination, I recommend you to must-read Stephen R. Covey’s book,’7 habits of highly effective people ‘. It is a self-improvement book that will help you in building an easy path towards success. 

Not enough time to read all the 381 pages?

No need to worry about that, as we have summarized the whole book for you.


In this book, 7 habits of highly effective people, Covey explained that, so many individuals who have achieved a good level of success are still, struggling. Because of their inner need of developing effectiveness, and need of making healthy relationships with others. Covey believes that the entire world is based on our perceptions.

How do we think? How do we see the world?

So, for changing any situation, We have to change ourselves, and for changing ourselves we need to change our perceptions.

According to some people, the foundation of success depends upon character ethics. Like temper, sincerity, discipline, justice, patience, etc. But, Covey explained it differently. According to him, the foundation of success is ‘Personality Ethics’, where success rested upon, attitudes, behaviour, and personality.

These days people always search for shortcuts. As they see someone successful, they immediately ask them, what’s your key to success? How do you do this?

But these techniques will help you out for a shorter period. They will not bring a long-term profit. They will just save your time but they aren’t the solution to the underlying condition.

“The way we see the problem is the problem.”

Covey writes that, if we want to change ourselves truly, so we not only need to alter our attitudes and behaviours, but we need to change ourselves fundamentally.

What are the Habits that highly Effective people have?

-Habit 1,2, and 3

Is to attain self-mastery. These are focused on moving from dependence to independence.

-Habit 4,5, and 6

Are based on communication skills and collaboration, developing a quality to work as a team, and moving from independence to interdependence.

-Habit 7

Is based on improvement and continuous growth.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People :

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put the first thing first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

A Quick Summary of each habit:

1. Be Proactive:

It is upon us. We need to take charge of every decision of our lives. Take responsibility for your choices and increase self-awareness.

This is the first habit that Covey discussed in his ‘7 habits of highly effective people’, that being proactive makes us different from other living beings. We have the ability to think, examine our character, and we can control our effectiveness. So, in order to be effective one must be proactive.
-Reactive people
The reactive ones always blame the world for their failure or simply say, “What can I do?”
-Proactive people
proactive ones understand that they have a ‘response-ability’ to respond a particular situation. They are in charge of their own life and decision.

“It is our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than what happened to us in the first place.”

Stephen R. Covey

2. Begin with the end mind:

We have the power to imagine and visualize that how the thing will be. Covey says that start with a clear destination in mind by using our own imagination and visualizing what we want to become and what values will guide us.

Most of us linked victories with busyness. People work hard to get promotions, higher income, or more recognition. But we never think of the reason that why we are doing so? We never evaluate the meaning behind victories. We never ask ourselves that what we are doing so intently, is what really matters to us.

Habit 2 Begin with the end in mind, suggests that have a clear vision of Destination so you will be aware of all the steps you need to take and also you’ll be aware of the right direction.

“It is incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

Stephen R. Covey

Covey says that our self-awareness empowers us to control our lives instead of living a life based on the other’s preferences and standards.
Beginning with the end in mind is extremely important for business. But if you are a leader, you need to visualize setting the strategies for your organization and asking yourself that, “what we are trying to achieve?” But before setting goals and achieving them, we must have to identify our values. This process needs rescripting.


By Rescripting, Covey meant identifying ineffective scripts that have been written for you, and proactively changing them into new scripts that are based on your own values.

The source of your wisdom, security, and power is your centre. Therefore, it is very important to identify that where your centre lies. Our centre affects us basically, as they determine our actions, decisions, and motivation.

7 habits of highly effective people
what is your centre?

But, from Covey’s point of view, none of this is best. We need to be principle-centred. We should identify timeless, unchanging principles to follow throughout life. This will guide us in aligning our behaviours with our beliefs and true values.

3. Put first thing first:

Managing ourselves is quite easy if we start prioritizing our tasks by putting first thing first. We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day tasks based on the level of their importance, not what is most urgent.
In the book, 7 habits of effective people, Habit 3, is about executing and starting moving towards our goal.

For being focused and track towards our goals, maintaining discipline is most important. We need to learn how we can control our impulses. We must have such willpower that whatever comes in, we will always act according to our values, not according to our desires.

“The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.”

7 habits p of highly effective people

All the activities are categorized on the basis of two factors that is, urgent and important. We react to urgent matters, but what about the important ones?
In order to focus on important activities, we need to say ‘no’ to other activities that may seem urgent or delegate them effectively.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Stephen R. Covey

4. Think win-win:

Win-win refers to the mutual benefits of both parties. When we are interdependent, we must think of mutual benefits and satisfaction. This will help us in building effective interdependent relationships.

Creating win-win situations is better than win-lose or lose-win because it will not leave any negative impact on relationships.
We need to remember that the spirit of Win-Win does not survive in an environment of competition. In our organization, we need to build a system that supports a Win-Win.

“To go for Win-Win, you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous.”

Stephen R. Covey

5. First understand, then to be understood:

When we interact with people, we should try understanding their perspectives first. Instead of giving any advice or suggestion, we must listen to them. Habit 5 says that we must understand, then to be understood. And in order to be understood, we must learn to listen.

We do the same thing in our day-to-day life without detecting the underlying condition or problem. We rush to find solutions and shortcuts.

Most people listen to reply, not to understand.

According to Covey, when we listen with our own perspective, we respond in 4 ways:

1. Evaluate- agree or disagree.
2. Probe– ask questions from our own frame of reference.
3. Advice- gives suggestions based on our own experience.
4. Interpret- try to figure out a person’s motive and behaviours based on our own motives and behaviours.
But if we replace it with empathic listening, we will be able to improve our communications. This is equally important in achieving Win-Win solutions.

” You’ve spent years of your life learning how to read and write, years learning how to speak. But what about listening?”

Stephen R. Covey

6. Synergize:

By understanding people from their perspective, we can unlock new possibilities or can discover new ideas by creating synergize.
The combination of all the habits prepared us for habit 6. It says we can increase the effectiveness by doing things collectively, than that by doing it separately.

For introducing synergy, we need to start with habits 4 and 5 — you must think Win-Win and seek first to understand. It will be helpful in developing creative ideas as well as solving problems as a team. By understanding each other’s perspectives, we can build a healthy relationship, too.

“The key to valuing differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”

Stephen R. Covey

7. Sharpen the saw:

Reserving time for improving ourselves physically, spiritually, and mentally is very important. As it plays an important role in increasing effectiveness. The continuous renewal allows us to increase the ability to practise each habit.

Habit 7 ‘sharpen the saw’, surrounds every habit for renewal and enhancement of our greatest asset- ourselves.

According to Covey, there are four dimensions of our nature. Each dimension plays a specific role. We can increase our effectiveness by regularly practising these dimensions in a balanced way:

1. Physical Dimension
– physical improvement is necessary to increase work efficiency and for being more active.

2. Spiritual Dimension
– renewing ourselves spiritually provides us leadership and stay us connected to our value system.

3. Mental Dimension
– renewing our mental health will grow our mind and it will become a place of great ideas.

4. Social/ Emotional Dimension
– the goal of renewing ourselves socially or emotionally is to build healthy and meaningful relationships with others.

These four dimensions help us in practising the rest of the habits. As we focus on renewing ourselves, we will see other people with positivity. We will motivate people by listening to them, by showing them we believe them, and by encouraging them to become proactive.

Renewal is the process that empowers us to move along an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement.

“The more we see people in terms of their unseen potential, the more we can use our imagination rather than our memory.”

Stephen R. Covey
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